Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Before our visitor gets here,

I think it's important to show the importance of keeping an open mind. You'll be surprised how fast, how easy it is for someone to steal your and my mind. You don't think so? We never like to think in terms of being dumb enough to let someone put something over on us in a very deceitful and tricky way. But you and I are living in a very deceitful and tricky society, in a very deceitful and tricky country, which has a very deceitful and tricky government. All of them in it aren't tricky and deceitful, but most of them are. And any time, you have a government in which most of them are deceitful and tricky, you have to be on guard at all times. You have to know how they work this deceit and how they work these tricks. Otherwise you'll find yourself in a bind.

One of the best ways to safeguard yourself from being deceived is always to form the habit of looking at things yourself, listening to things for yourself, thinking for yourself, before you try and come to any judgment. Never base your impression of someone on what someone else has said. Or upon what someone else has written. Or upon what someone else has written. Or wrote. Never base your judgment on things like that. Especially in this kind of country and in this kind of society which has mastered the art of very deceitfully painting people whom they don't like in an image that they know you won't like. So you end up hating your friends and loving their enemies.

An example I was flying from Algiers to Geneva about three or four weeks ago, and seated beside me on the airplane were a couple of Americans, both white, one a male and the other a female. One was an interpreter who worked in Geneva for the United Nations, the other was a girl who worked in one of the embassies in some part of Algeria. We conversed for about forty or forty-five minutes and then the lady, who had been looking at my briefcase, said, "May I ask you a personal question?" And I said, "Yes." Because they always do anyway. She said, "What kind of last name do you have that begins with X?" I said, "That's it, X." So she said, "X?" "Yes." "Well, what is your first name?" I said, "Malcolm." So, she waited for about ten minutes and then she said, "You're not Malcolm X." And I said, "Yes, I'm Malcolm X. Why, what's the matter?" And she said, "Well, you're not what I was looking for."

What she was looking for was what the newspapers, the press, had created. She was looking for the image that the press had created. Somebody with some horns, you know, about to kill all the white people - as if he could kill all of them, or as if he shouldn't. She was looking for someone who was a rabble-rouser, who couldn't even converse with people with blue eyes, you know, someone who was irrational, and things of that sort. I take time to point this out, because it shows how skillfully someone can take a newspaper and build an image of someone so that before you even meet them, you'll run. You don't even want to hear what they have to say, you don't even know them, all you know is what the press has had to say....
-Malcolm X Speaks, p. 91-92

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